Have you ever had one of those days where you’re so busy at the office you forget to eat? You’re not alone. Almost all of us have been there more than once. Breakfast, lunch, and even a snack can all sound less important than your to-do list on certain days. And sometimes those days can turn into weeks or even months.
And then, on those days when you do get a chance to eat, too often, busy professionals don’t eat the right food because it’s just easier to grab something quick. But if every day your lunch consists of fast food, a vending machine run, and main-lined soda, you could be in a world of hurt.
Healthy eating for busy professionals is vital if you want to be successful at work.
What Happens When You Eat Poorly
When you’re too busy to eat, you’re not just losing weight. While intermittent fasting is a tool that some individuals use for weight loss, it’s not particularly healthy or good for your body in the long term.
If you skip meals, you could feel:
- Sluggish and unable to focus when your blood sugar starts to dip too low.
- Irritated and “hangry” as your body increases cortisol production.
You could also cause your metabolism to slow down, which inevitably leads to weight gain and makes it even more difficult to lose weight in the first place.
As for eating unhealthy food, it’s just as bad if not worse. Junk food is highly processed with many calories and few nutrients. It’s also just as addictive as alcohol and drugs, and as bad for you.
Studies on fast food have revealed that eating it once a week can increase your risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, and death from coronary heart disease. One small study revealed that eating junk food for just five days could reduce your muscles’ ability to turn glucose into energy.
So, how do you make sure that, no matter what, you’re eating healthy on a busy schedule?
Also read: How to Regain Focus and Motivation
5 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Busy Schedule
Eating the right foods every day can be challenging, but it’s also vital to your health. Eating healthy fuels your body with the energy you need to make it through your busy schedule, puts you in a better mood, helps you sleep well at night, and keeps you mentally focused.
To get you started on better workweek nutrition, here are some tips for eating healthy on a busy schedule.
1. You’re Not Too Busy to Forget to Eat
First of all, you need to realize that you’re not too busy to forget to eat or only eat crap. There is always enough time in the day to eat something. The key is to make it a regular part of your day that always happens no matter the unexpected challenges or opportunities that come your way.
Make it routine. Eat at a specific time every day, and if you need to, make it really light and quick.
Eating a lunch that isn’t laden with calories in the middle of the day will keep you from the afternoon slump while still giving your body the calories and nutrients it needs. Make your lunch a green vegetable, protein, and small side of carbs instead of a tempting, but far too rich burger.
2. Strive for at Least One Healthy Meal a Day
Studies show that just one healthy meal a day can reduce your overall stress and inflammation in your body. So, even if all you can do is enjoy a healthier lunch every single day, you can positively impact your health.
3. Don’t Skip Breakfast
If you need to wake up earlier to eat breakfast before you head into the office, do it. Skipping breakfast has been linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes, as well as morning moodiness. Instead, make sure you always grab something healthy to eat before you run out the door and set your day up right.
4. Pack Your Lunch
It’s tempting to go out to eat with your co-workers each day. It’s also tempting to ignore the question of lunch until it’s actually upon you, but preparing your lunch ahead of time is one of the best things you can do.
The night before or in the morning before you head to work put a healthy meal together that includes a few healthy snacks to get you through the day. Then, all you have to do is grab your lunch at the office and eat. It not only cuts down on the time it takes to eat—no traveling to buy food or waiting in line required—it ensures you eat a healthy meal.
5. Healthy Snacks for Work
One of the best things you can do is replace your vending machine runs—which only offer chips, candy bars, and other unhealthy foods—with better snacks you bring from home. These healthy snacks for work are easy to bring to the office and far better for you.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, and berries are all easy to eat at your desk and provide you with essential nutrients and energy.
- Vegetables: Chopped up carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery can be a nice snack in the afternoon.
- Seeds and Nuts: A small bag of almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds provides you with essential fatty acids, proteins, and nutrients to fill you up and keep you going.
- Dairy: A small bowl of Greek yogurt with fresh fruit is a great snack.
- Healthy Drinks: Instead of a soda, grab a sparkling water, green tea, or other healthy drink that’s not loaded up with sugar.
Also read: How to Beat Perfectionism
Ideas for Promoting Healthy Eating in the Workplace
And if you’re the boss or have influence over the break room at the office, then you can also do what you can to promote healthy eating in the workplace. This can significantly improve your work environment and provide a more positive outlook.
Here are a few ideas for getting started.
- Develop an educational program/campaign around healthy eating, and make that information available to circulate around your staff.
- Make it easy for your staff to make a healthy choice by providing healthy snack options in the kitchen/break room.
- Provide incentives for eating healthy such as creating a work-wide challenge for losing weight.
- Make it official by putting your dedication to promoting healthy eating in the workplace in writing. Then, let your staff know that you’ll do what you can to provide the appropriate supplies so healthier food options are always available.
- Institute a culture where your staff can take the time needed for a designated lunch where they stretch their legs and eater healthier food.
Visit the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety website for more ideas for adding healthy eating to your workplace.